The female investigator from Child Protective Services (CPS) surveyed the broken items around us and asked whether my daughter received behavioral support.
“I had a great in-home team who had been with us for years, but I lost them in January because I was forced to shift Katie to MediCal.”
“MediCal provides those services,” she said.
“I know they do. But it took me four months just to get Katie’s medical card. Our caseworker insisted she wasn’t really our caseworker. Only until she processed the paperwork to get rid of us.”
The investigator made a face and scribbled some notes.
“I had to go to the field office. Those gals had me call the supervisor and threatened to send an email, which seemed like a strange threat, but it helped—a bit. The caseworker sent me to one wrong agency after another. None of them dealt with autism. Finally one of the field office gals figured out an alternative person to contact and I got the medical card. But when I followed up with mental health services, they kept offering drug rehab. Who needs rehab for a twelve year old?”
“You’d be surprised,” the investigator said dryly. “What about the Regional Center? They should provide behavioral support.”
“Not anymore. After the autism mandate, those services shifted to insurance.” How could she not know this?
“Would you like help with MediCal?”
“You can help with that?”
“Yeah, that would be great. I really need to get an in-home program started again, but I don’t understand how MediCal works and keep getting the run-around.”
The investigator made some notes, then looked up. “You should also receive more services from the Regional Center.”
“I should?” This was news to me.
“Yes.” More notes. “Plus your child needs to be in school. A real school.”
“No arguments here.”
“I also think counseling might help.”
“No, your daughter.” She was annoyed.
I laughed, which annoyed her more. “I don’t think therapy will help Katie. I’m pretty sure you need to hold a conversation for counseling to work.”
“You said she was verbal!”
I refrained from rolling my eyes. “She is, but it’s a spectrum. She doesn’t talk enough for counseling. Therapy will only frustrate her even more than she already is.”
The investigator looked truly irritated and I sighed inwardly. Why couldn’t CPS send someone familiar with autism?
“I want to talk with Kathryn. Can I do that?” She asked like she expected me to say no.
“Sure.” I had nothing to hide.
Katie was swinging in her hammock swing. She smiled at the investigator, who introduced herself.
Katie responded, “Hi, Katie.”
“That’s a nice swing you have. Do you like using it?”
“Yes,” Katie said. She had the good sense not to swing to the ceiling while the investigator watched.
“Do you like living here with Mommy?”
“Yes,” Katie said as she swung.
“Do you like your dog? Is she nice to you?”
“Yes,” Katie said. “Delta nice to you.”
This confused the investigator. “It’s ecolalia,” I said. “Part of autism. Just ignore it.” I didn’t point out that Katie often gives unreliable answers to questions. Hopefully the investigator would continue to ask questions that could be answered with a yes.
“Do you like Mommy’s friends?”
“Yes,” Katie said.
“Do you like school?”
Katie abruptly stopped swinging and yelled, “No school. Caroline go bye bye. Caroline go bye bye. No school. Caroline go bye bye. NO THANK YOU!”
The CPS investigator made a note and snapped her portfolio closed.
“She says that all the time,” Caroline offered. “I don’t take it personally.”
I didn’t say anything. I mean, what could I possibly say? Katie had said everything that needed to be said. No Caroline indeed.
The investigator shook my hand and said someone would be in touch in a week, maybe two. I wondered what would happen next.
To be continued…
Until next time,